Caught Selling? Fighting Milwaukee Drug Distribution Charges

Caught Selling_ Fighting Milwaukee Drug Distribution Charges

Drug distribution charges in Milwaukee can be severe and carry significant consequences for those accused. Depending on the amount and type of controlled substances involved, you could spend many years in prison, pay thousands in fines, and carry the stigma of a convicted offender. To help you avoid the harshest penalties, here is an overview of drug distribution charges and potential defense strategies. Your best opportunity for a successful case outcome is working with an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense law firm.

What Is Drug Distribution?

Drug distribution is the process of selling, delivering, or otherwise transferring controlled substances from one party to another. Drug distribution takes several forms:

  • Street-Level Drug Dealing – Involves an individual who sells small quantities of illegal drugs, such as cocaine, marijuana, or heroin, on street corners, in parking lots, or other public places.
  • Large-Scale Distribution – This type of drug distribution involves many people and criminal organizations who sell and deliver large amounts of controlled substances.
  • Prescription Medicine Sharing – This type of distribution occurs when an individual sells or shares prescription medications without authorization. Even if their intention is to help someone, distributing drugs is illegal even if no money changes hands.
  • Online Drug Sales – Individuals may use encrypted platforms or “the dark web” to sell and ship drugs.

Factors in Drug Distribution Charges

In Wisconsin, the distribution of drugs is the act of knowingly and intentionally possessing controlled substances with the intent to transfer them to others. In practice, law enforcement typically defines distribution using these criteria:

  • Knowledge – The person involved is aware that they have the drugs and intends to share or sell them to someone else. It’s not accidental but a deliberate awareness of the presence of these drugs.
  • Intent – The individual intends to share, sell, or transfer the controlled substances to others. There are often text messages, conversations, and other communications that point to someone’s intention to move drugs.
  • Quantity – Larger quantities often raise suspicions of intent to distribute rather than suggesting personal use.
  • Paraphernalia – The presence of drug-related paraphernalia, like scales and packaging materials, can support distribution charges.

Is Drug Distribution the Same as Trafficking?

While both drug distribution and trafficking involve the movement of controlled substances, there are distinctions between the two terms:

  • Drug distribution typically refers to the act of transferring drugs on a smaller scale, often involving street-level transactions.
  • Trafficking, on the other hand, usually implies a more organized and large-scale operation, often crossing state or international borders.

The severity of charges and potential penalties can differ based on whether the accused is facing distribution or trafficking charges.

What Qualifies as Illegal Distribution?

First, let’s determine who has the legal right to distribute controlled substances. The legal distribution of controlled substances is for authorized individuals and entities, such as licensed medical professionals, pharmacies, and pharmaceutical companies. These authorized parties distribute controlled substances for legitimate medical and therapeutic purposes within strict guidelines and with oversight from state and federal agencies.

Therefore, for anyone who is not an authorized drug distributor or their representative (like a pharmaceutical salesperson), it is illegal to sell, deliver, or transfer controlled substances.

State Versus Federal Drug Distribution Charges

Federal drug charges often carry harsher penalties and typically apply to larger quantities of drugs. Federal charges arise when drug quantities surpass a threshold or cross state lines. State charges are less severe, but you can still face imprisonment and other penalties.

Despite marijuana legalization in 11 states for recreational use for adults and 33 states for medical use, federal drug trafficking charges persist due to the lack of federal marijuana legalization. Wisconsin does not permit recreational use of marijuana. The state also limits medical marijuana to low levels of THC.

What Affects the Legal Penalties for Drug Distribution Charges?

Drug distribution convictions have different levels of penalties, including imprisonment, fines, probation, community service, and the potential for a permanent criminal record. Several factors influence the exact legal consequences, including:

  • Type of Drugs – The law classifies controlled substances into categories called schedules, depending on their potential for abuse and if there are acceptable medical uses.
  • Quantity of Drugs – The greater the amount, the higher the probability that prosecutors will assume the intent is to distribute rather than for personal recreational use.
  • Criminal Record – Repeat offenders typically face harsher sentences.
  • Possession of Paraphernalia – The presence of items like scales, packaging materials, or large amounts of cash shows the intent to distribute, affecting the penalties.
  • Aggravating Factors – Using firearms, violence, or involvement with organized crime may escalate penalties.
  • Location of Offense – Penalties are higher if the alleged incident occurred near schools, playgrounds, or other designated vulnerable areas.
  • Cooperation with Police – In some cases, cooperating with law enforcement by providing information about drug networks or other criminal activities may reduce penalties.
  • State or Federal Charges – Federal drug distribution charges usually carry more severe penalties than state charges.

Defenses for Drug Distribution Charges

Caught Selling_ Fighting Milwaukee Drug Distribution ChargesAn experienced Milwaukee drug distribution defense lawyer can assess your case and craft appropriate defenses for your circumstances. The most common defenses for these types of charges are:

  • Lack of Intent – The drugs are for your personal use, not for distribution.
  • Chain of Custody Issues – Any mishandling or deviation from proper procedure could raise doubts about the validity of the evidence against you.
  • Unlawful Search and Seizure – In some cases, we could question the legality of evidence based on constitutional guidelines and ask the court to deem it inadmissible.
  • Entrapment – Police sting operations may lead to individuals being coerced or induced to commit a crime that they otherwise would not have committed.

Contact a Milwaukee Drug Distribution Defense Lawyer

Answering questions from police officers without legal counsel is a mistake that many individuals make. Along with the stress of being questioned and facing possible jail time, you could inadvertently harm your case in an interrogation without a lawyer. If you face drug distribution charges in Milwaukee, choose an aggressive defense attorney with proven case results. Contact Hart Powell, S.C. online or at (414) 271-9595 to discuss your case in a free, confidential consultation with a Milwaukee drug crimes defense lawyer.

Written by Michael Hart & Craig Powell

Last Updated : March 25, 2024